The Voice, The Mill, The Sword, The Song

The voice, the mill, the sword, the song,

One voice of clay and one of gold,

We know he spoke in high-pitched tones,

Just as the country boy,

It was the twang that Lincoln spoke,

By time still unrefined,

Out of this land’s crude vessels fired,

The runaway slave in waist-coat stood,

To speak to capitals and newer worlds,

One voice of clay and one of gold,

But still the whole wide country heard,

One poor freeborn and one ex-slave,

Called the oppressor names,

Whose time was fleeting and too sweet,

While hoping the downtrodden watched,

Their time of bondage passing still in ever slower beats,

Then did the cry called justice come,

two voices heard at once,

A voice of clay and one of gold,

For those beat down by feet of greed,

And matched those freedom pioneers ‘gainst the slavers’ lies,

One voice of clay and one of gold,

Until their urns and gins of wealth,

By reapers’ swords were brought to dust before their very eyes,

While planters proud watched empires burn,

Where some furious vengeance met cavaliers,

in urgent doom of horses’ hooves and cries,

And, lo above the din of all,

The voice of clay and one of gold,

The voice, the mill, the sword, the song,

But sore these dead still died alone.

So lay them down at the battle’s end,

Where Memory’s stair begins,

And say the breathless moments’ prayers,

And hope that triumphs come,

To make our hearts’ yet Sing,

Yet all must end once we lay down,

Despite our win or loss.

Dare we then make the trumpets’ sound?

Or ask who wears the blouse?

Grown silent is the voice of clay,

Unheard the voice of gold,

Still must we fashion Liberty,

The Mill, the Sword, the Song.

-Albert Turner Goins